Thursday, December 15, 2016

Making Traditions:Lithuanian Straw Ornaments

After many years of just not getting around to it, I attempted to make some Lithuanian Straw Ornaments for my son and daughter-in-law. She's a genuine Lithuanian/American who has been here since her 20's. We have often talked of making them, but the holiday season is always so busy.

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I am half Lithuanian and half Danish. Both sets of my grandparents were immigrants, they came here to make a better life. Chicagoland has a huge population of Lithuanians, while many Danes settled in Southeastern Wisconsin.  I have been to mass with my d-in-law when all said in Lithuanian.
I found some very basic directions---and from there had to improvise. The actual Lithuanian ornaments were made of bleached straw. But white plastic straws are used here. These were a little wide. I think thinner ones might work better.

The straws are connected by using a LONG darning needle with crochet thread to make a continuous loop through the entire ornament. This does involve some pre-planning. The only detailed instructions I could find were for the simple triangle based shape above. 


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The shapes can be very basic or very intricate. I'm not ready for three-tiered chandelier type ornaments, or the intricate snowflakes.  So far I have made ten, and maybe I can get a few more done before Saturday. 

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You cut the straws to equal lengths and then use geometry to create the 3-dimensional shapes.

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They don't show up that well on our sparse primitive tree. But the kids have 2 cats and do a minimalist approach on a thick pine tree. They will be perfect on there.


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A traditional 5-point star turned out well. Once my 68 year old brain traveled back to all those math classes I had through college, I began to see how there could be infinite patterns.

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The Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture  has an interesting post on their website about straw ornaments. They sponser a tree at the Museum of Science and Industry's Christmas Around the World  Exhibit, you can find out more here.

Whatever your background, culture, or neck-of-the-woods, 
we hope you have the 

Merriest Christmas!

Thanks always for visiting. 
I will try and respond to every comment and answer every question.

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

I will be sharing at these fine Parties!

Vintage Charm











Bestemor's Pund Kage or Gramma's Poundcake..

Yesterday, I spent the better part of the day decorating in the kitchen, taking pictures and then baking.

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Christmas or Jul is just not Christmas until I bake Bestemor's (Grandmother's) Poundcake or Pund Kage. Here is the Christmas tree in the kitchen, I will share completely, later. The little wool yarn Nisse or elf is making sure my cake will rise or not. This is the last of the family original ones from probably the 1920's.

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Our everyday coffee station with added cocoa and marshmallows. Cinnamon sticks are great for sticking in with coffee grounds, or stirring tea. But what is that wonderful smell of butter and vanilla?

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Mmmmmm, just out of the oven. Bestemor's Pund Kage.

The new white kitchen is the heart of our home and this is the first major baking I have done other than some pumpkin pies. Such a pleasure to have everything easy to find, reach, and the extra counters are amazing. The butcher block is so forgiving.

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Here's Gramma---baking on a vintage music box. This display is temporary as we are having Family Cookie Day on Saturday and the entire counter will be filled with rolling pins and cookie cutters.

Family History:

I have two boxes of recipes and a book from my grandmother and perhaps two or more grandmother's from the handwriting before her. Most are entirely in Danish and sometimes a script nearly impossible to read, some written on the thinnest parchment paper in pencil. Many are from the 1800's. Problems though, quantities are described as butter the size of an egg, handfuls, spoon (no size, just spoon)---or in liters or grams. Plus ingredients no longer available, like saltpeter, used for sausage making and preserving.

Fun stuff-when you are trying to archive and duplicate family recipes. I had often helped my grandmother with Christmas baking as a child, so the how-to was not the problem, but the quantities were and continue to be.


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After much research, trial and error, I have managed to get very close to what her poundcake tasted like over the years. My University had a Home Economics major---so the library was chuck full of cookbooks and international recipes/equivalents etc. So between my grandmother's scribbles in Danish-English,  and researching, we got it worked out.

Also products change over 100 years...flour is different, as are the eggs, buttermilk is no longer raw either and all this effected the results.



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Today's Bestemor's Pund Kage- Grandmother's Poundcake

Cream in mixer/large bowl until fluffy:
1 cup of butter ( I use salted) (don't bother and try and substitute)
2 cups of white cane sugar (I have tried turbinado...it doesn't work)

Add one at time, 4 large eggs, beat in each until totally combined (not extra large or jumbo)

(At this point I remember hand mixing all this! In my grandmother's HUGE yellow ware bowl.)

Add 2 tsp. grated lemon rind (positively need this)
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Sift together well into another bowl

3 cups of unbleached flour, I use Ceresota or King Arthur
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Have ready 1 cup of fresh buttermilk

Slowly add the flour mixture one cup at a time and beat with 1/3 of the buttermilk

Repeat and repeat. Mix on low until completely combined, or fold in by hand, like Bestemor.

Pour into 2 greased and floured  large loaf pans, I use Bestemor's vintage glass ones.
or 3 smaller aluminum pans.

Bake 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 min.

When the cake is lightly brown and a bamboo skewer comes out clean from the center they are done.

Sometimes it takes longer if you are like me and triple the recipe!

A must serve with fresh Kaffe (Coffee) with Kreme (Cream), or in the afternoon a sip of sweet red wine.


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Hubby volunteered to cut the cake. We cut the lightest one---just in case it was gooey in the middle. But, it was perfect texture and flavor.

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And just as quick, he tested it...

I basically cook everything healthy, except this one recipe in all its delicious goodness.
Pound Cake is named for what it puts on your hips, period. But so nummy!

While I took photos, this is what happened, a second piece....whoa, Merrycholesterol pills.

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Gl├Ždelig Jul! Merry Christmas, it's finally Christmas here now!

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That's Bestemor's1920's glass pan on the right. I have 5 of them. 

Thanks always for visiting. 
I will try and respond to every comment and answer every question.

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

I will be sharing at these fine Parties!

Vintage Charm